I’m Dating Someone Who’ll Be Leaving For College

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Hi Meredith,

It’s graduation season, so I’m sure that you’re already getting a lot of these emails. After having a crush on someone for three years, I went to prom with and started dating the cutest girl in my entire school. The only problem is that I’m a junior and will be staying in our hometown, and she’s a senior moving to college, 45 minutes away. I like her, so I went into the relationship thinking that we would have a fun and memorable summer, but I never expected that she would want to date me through her freshman year of college. But she keeps hinting that she thinks we could stay together; she said she googled the distance between her new college and my house and mentioned coming home for visits.

When we started dating I was so sure that I didn’t want to be forced through the turkey dump, and that I wanted our relationship to end on a good note, but I can’t stop thinking about her and wondering whether it would be worth it to try to be one of the two percent of high-school-sweethearts relationships that last after college. Do you think it would be worth it even if the relationship is statistically doomed? And if not, how do I bring it up if it seems like she hasn’t even considered it? And if she has considered it and has already planned on breaking up, and I don’t bring it up, what if she thinks I’m presumptuous assuming that she wouldn’t break up with me?

— Left Behind


OK, that last question confused me a bit. Let’s just focus on the general theme here.

1. Don’t worry about statistics. Numbers don’t tell individual stories, and even though most high school relationships don’t last forever, that doesn’t mean they “failed.” (More on that in 2.)

2. The “turkey dump” scenario, in which you get broken up with over Thanksgiving as opposed to a cleaner breakup now, is a thing for a reason. Sometimes it takes a few months of long-distance to realize that one or more parties want something else. It’s also possible that if you break up in August, you’ll have the opposite of a turkey dump (a turkey connection?). Meaning, if you force an ending when it doesn’t feel natural, you might run into each other’s arms in November, or have weirder feelings for a longer stretch of time.

3. You’re allowed to talk about this, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, sometimes I wonder how (and how much) we’ll keep in touch after you go. Can we check in toward the end of the summer about how we’re both feeling? Because I’m really into this.” You can also just wait to have the whole conversation until later in the summer, when you have more information.

If it helps, my high school boyfriend and I stayed together during my whole freshman year. He was a year younger, so he was back at home. I missed him terribly, but I was also enjoying a new world, and probably should have let him go sooner than our end-of-year breakup. There was some misery, a few bad feelings, and confusion, mostly because technology wasn’t where it is now, so there was a lot of guessing about what my life was like.

But we also had a blast. We made a ton of memories, and honestly, he’s a close friend today (I went to his wedding right before lockdown).

I wouldn’t trade our last months together for a better-timed breakup, because … there was no better time. The relationship ran its course as it needed to. Yours will too. If/when you know it has to be over, you’ll say so. If you want more, you can also say so, and then accept whatever answer you get from there.

It’s difficult, but take it day by day and revisit the question when you know a bit more about what you want to keep.

– Meredith

Readers? Advice (kind advice, please) for a young reader? Thoughts on turkey dump?

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